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Secret Hong Kong islands

Skip HK’s tourist traps and explore these hidden islands, as recommended by Anna Cummins

For something a little different: Po Toi
Photo: Oasis Trek
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For something a little different: Po Toi

It’s incredible that only a few kilometres from the hustle of Hong Kong Island lies a place inhabited by people who have no official electricity or running water supply. This is Po Toi – a serene enclave that lies to the south-east of Hong Kong.

There’s one main path on the island, the Po Toi Country Trail. This loop takes in a photogenic lighthouse, as well as some dramatic and unusual rock formations – let your imagination fly as you spot the famous Turtle Climbing up the Mountain, Monk Rock and Palm Cliff. The other half of the path, consisting of a few steep and overgrown sections, takes you up the hill to a pagoda with rewarding views.

You can also wander to the Tin Hau temple. Perched on a rock to the far left of the village, it has great views over the island and surrounding ocean.

Don’t miss The rocks! Coffins, turtles, monks, palms and more – let your imagination run wild.

How to get there The ferry departs from Stanley and Aberdeen piers for $7.10 return.

Tigerair flies to Hong Kong from $155 return. See td.gov.hk and oasistrek.com for ferry schedule.

For an abandoned Hakka village: Yim Tin Tsai
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For an abandoned Hakka village: Yim Tin Tsai

A 15-minute boat ride from Sai Kung, Yim Tin Tsai wins hands down if you’re into scouting out deserted strips of land. You can easily explore most of this tiny isle in a few hours – it’s only 0.24sq km.

Once you arrive at the pier, check out the nearby photogenic St Joseph’s Chapel, which was built in the Romanesque style in 1890. Next door is the Yim Tin Tsai Village Heritage Exhibition, which houses a modest collection of artefacts that demonstrate what daily village life was like during the last century.

You can follow the trail around, passing by a series of abandoned village houses. They offer spooky remnants of the previous inhabitants, such as radios, kitchen appliances, televisions, bed stands and crockery – all still and silent. The path circles abandoned salt pans and fish ponds before coming back to the pier, where a small kiosk sells Hakka sweets.

Don’t miss The mysterious and fascinating abandoned houses.

How to get there The ferry departs from Sai Kung pier for $6.20 return.

Tigerair flies to Hong Kong from $155 return. See td.gov.hk and oasistrek.com for ferry schedule.

For rockin’ rocks and sunrises: Tung Ping Chau
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For rockin’ rocks and sunrises: Tung Ping Chau

Tung Ping Chau is made out of ‘new’ sedimentary rock, resulting in a brightly coloured, multi-layered and photogenic landscape. Spend your day clambering cliffs or taking the 6km Peng Chau Country Trail before going for a dip in the island’s crystal clear waters, filled with vibrant ocean life. After all that exertion, fuel up at one of the restaurants that pop up on the weekends.

Camping is another must-try activity, especially since the island boasts some of the best sunrises in the area.

Don’t miss The incredible wave-cut rock platforms that border the island’s shores. (We also advise not to miss the ferry back – there are only two per week!)

How to get there The ferry departs from Ma Liu Shui pier for $15.90 return.

Tigerair flies to Hong Kong from $155 return. See td.gov.hk and oasistrek.com for ferry schedule.

For Hong Kong’s best lawn: Tap Mun
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For Hong Kong’s best lawn: Tap Mun

A popular spot for camping and kite flying, the 1.7sq km isle is composed of rolling, grassy hillocks complete with wandering cows. Spend an afternoon along the paved 2km footpath, which starts out at the fisherman’s village by the pier and ends up on the hilltop in the middle of the island. The path offers panoramic views and a refreshing breeze, even on the hottest day.

Once you’re all hiked out, head back to the village and observe the locals drying out fish on every available surface, before stopping by the island’s main restaurant, Sun Hon Kee, for your seafood fix.

Don’t miss The gentle, winding trail over the island, with its year-round cool breezes.

How to get there The ferry departs from Wong Shek Pier for $1.68 to $2.50 return.

Tigerair flies to Hong Kong from $155 return. See td.gov.hk and oasistrek.com for ferry schedule.

For a glimpse of an old world: Kat O
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For a glimpse of an old world: Kat O

Lying close to China, this 2.4sq km isle is home to a few hundred people. Also known as Crooked Island thanks to its irregular shape, Kat O isn’t easily accessible, but its quiet and worn streets are worth the trip.

First, stop by Kat O Geoheritage Centre, which celebrates the island’s geology and cultural history. Then wander along the Kat O Nature Trail – this short path winds through the villages before ending at a pagoda. Look out for the ancient temples, ancestral halls and three corroded cannons along the way.

Don’t miss Kat O Geoheritage Centre.

How to get there The ferry departs from Sha Tau Kok pier for $1.80 to $2.65 return, but this requires an access permit. Alternatively, you can join a private island tour, charter a boat or get a water taxi from Wong Shek pier.

Tigerair flies to Hong Kong from $155 return. See td.gov.hk and oasistrek.com for ferry schedule.

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